174 Responses to Twelve Reasons Why Globalization is a Huge Problem

  1. Leo Smith says:

    Hmm. Many of the things you cite as problems are in fact to the developing world, solutions….
    And yet other things are only problems if you BELIEVE in AGW…

    So there is plenty of room for debate.

    BUt there is a simpler way of looking at this: Globalisation simply arbitrages differences in material resources , technical proficiency, and living standards across the world. And without the world government the Liberal UN wants to impose, the tendency is to erode the power of national governments anyway. AS well as giving them the greatest excuse of all -“its them lot over there wots causing it!”

    In essence Globalisation means rising living standards the the developing world and falling living standards in the developed world. Without protection national blue collar workforces in the West simply see their jobs offshored.

    IN short wherever there is a totally free market the jobs will go to those who are in possession of the requisite skill set and charge the least for their services. And with multinationals the profits will accrue in whatever country has the lowest tax regime.,arbitrage in labour rates, skills and tax regimes..leading as you say to a race to the bottom.

    I think it is a little misleading to tie it into resources though. It is an independent variable.

    As transport got cheaper the natural barriers to trade disintegrated, and areas of low cost production naturally flooded to areas of high consumption. IN the end it will all even out.

    The challenge – leaving aside the energy things, which are a dominant, but independent, issue, is to find something that any given geographical area can do better than anyone else and at lower cost. Nations or states that fail to arrive at that, and seek to shelter behind effective transfer economies in large socialised economic blocs, will in the end be nothing but dead weight on the rest.

    Which is not a recipe for harmony in those blocs, as the Soviet bloc, and now the EU, are discovering.

    • Globalization is great from the point of view of a developing country. There are several catches though (1) It builds dependency on resources that won’t last, (2) It builds dependency on countries that are themselves likely to collapse, (3) There is always someone one rung lower on the ladder than you are. Even if China has been benefiting from globalization, the tendency will be to keep moving to even lower-cost areas, such as Bangladesh and India. At some point China becomes too high-cost.

      The pollution problem is a bigger one than AGW. Unbreathable air is a problem in metropolitan areas of developing countries. Ocean acidification is another. Pollution because of industrial processes is another. Globalization encourages a rush to the bottom in this area as well.

      One difficulty in the rush to the bottom, is that those living in warm, humid climates necessarily have an advantage. They can get along without warm clothes, sturdy homes, and big cars for transport. This difference alone makes it harder for developed nations to compete.

      • Mel Tisdale says:

        The pollution problem, by which I assume you mean smog, is closely related to AGW. Get rid of it and the sun will come through and push the temperatures higher – hardly a win win situation. In any event, it is an acute problem which,given the will, we can fix. The CO2 that was produced at the same time is a chronic problem which will be with us for many decades. Those who study the subject for a living are coming to the concensus that we are in for about 4C to 6C temperature rise by the end of the century. I just cannot see how that is not worse than the smog, bad as it is. On top of that we have the ocean acidification and sea-level rise problems to contend with. Not to mention the increase in extreme weather events, which is going to give farmers a hard time just when we are going to need them to most efficient. They won’t know whether to plan for drought or deluge. All they will know is that it is likely to one or the other.

        You mention elsewhere that the coming crash will help solve the climate change problem. Not if we have passed the tipping point for permafrost melting beforehand it won’t. All we will be able to do then is cling on and try and enjoy the ride.

        • The world will do just fine with whatever climate it ends up with. It is the nature of a finite planet to cycle from one climate to another. New species will become top species. The species that survive and flourish will likely be ones that view our pollution as something that they need for survival. Perhaps the new top species will be plants of some sort, since plants can use carbon dioxide.

          Climate change is a problem only from the perspective of humans. If severe climate change happens, and there are still lots of humans, living in our current locations, growing our current crops, using our current machinery, I agree that climate change will be a major problem.

          My problem is that it looks to me as if such severe changes are coming in the very near future that it is highly unlikely that the assumptions in the previous paragraph are anywhere near right. In addition, I am not convinced that there is anything we really can do. Tell everyone that one family in 100 should have a child? Won’t work! Cut back our own coal use, while the rest of the world continues its coal use? Not enough difference to matter. Other countries would import our coal, or fifty years from now, people here would start using it again. I think climate change is already happening, and I am not terribly convinced that we collectively can do anything to change the situation. We don’t have enough power over humanity. Using fossil fuels has too much benefit, and adequate cheap substitutes are not available. Adding a lot of intermittent renewables to the grid is not a solution, in my view. It will just bring down the electric grid sooner. The only possible solution would be to get people to drop fossil fuels (including electricity, which depends on fossil fuels) completely, but this is not going to happen.

          • Mel Tisdale says:

            Gail, sadly, I think you could well be right about the inevitability of climate change. Let’s face it, it is clearly happening, yet even among those who comment herein we have a Cambridge University graduate in a science subject (with a Masters if I remember correctly) who, despite having been pointed towards an excellent website, skepticalscience.com, run by scientists dedicated to disseminating the latest science of climate change, including the myths about it, clearly still doesn’t believe in it. If such a person can take a “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up” stance, what chance do we have with the average citizen? And what awful individuals the media people are who take advantage of same to push their ill-informed positions on the subject. You have to be pretty desperate for advertising revenue (or stupid) to endanger your own children in order to get it.

            I will continue to fight for action in the hope that we can reverse climate change. As a parent that is something that I am obliged to do. It is becoming ever clearer to me that when my son is my age, he will be living in quite poor climatic conditions that will be influencing all areas of his life. At least he will not be able to say that his dad didn’t care. The irony is that thanks to the British Daily Mail, he thinks climate change is all a hoax! (Kids are the screwing you get for the screwing you got.)

            • I would rather just omit the subject of climate change. If there is really nothing we can do, and fossil fuel use will decline rapidly in the future regardless of what we do because of collapse, then running around talking about the subject just distresses ourselves, and does no real good. In fact, the amount of fossil fuel use seems likely to decline far below what all of the models are assuming regardless of what we do now. This is inherent in the upcoming collapse.

              I am not entirely convinced that the climate models are very accurate. If fossil fuel use is likely to be a lot lower than what they are forecasting, I suppose a could go around saying, “Climate change will only be X degrees instead of Y degrees, because of the collapse that is coming. I am not sure that is really true–I am not certain the models are not really all that good. But I expect that the changes that will be happening in fossil fuel consumption will be greater than what they are hoping for, at least partly because there will be fewer humans. The humans that are left will most likely need to leave cities on the coast for reasons other than rising sea level. The humans that are left will need to make huge changes to agriculture anyhow. Pouring huge amounts of money into one scheme or another now (more wind for electricity is popular) seems to me to be a huge waste of money, with very undesirable side-effects, like destabilizing the grid that we do have now. If I saw good solutions that we could adopt cheaply, I might be more enthusiastic about the whole subject.

          • Xabier says:

            Thanks for yet another lucid post.

            We live at a time of extreme irrationality.

            For instance, near my house in England, large areas of hitherto protected and valuable agricultural land is going to be concreted over to build massive developments which are – of course – said to be essential for ‘growth.’

            This is also planned for much of the country, so desperate or deluded are our rulers and their short-termist and self-interested advisors.

            From every angle of consideration this is insane, there is no need to elaborate on the reasons to people who are here. One might consider that Britain is only 60% food self-sufficient for a start, but could be 95% if agriculture were prioritised (leaving aside oil-dependant vulnerabilities for a moment.)

            So, loss of good land, and acquisition of more infrastructure built to very poor standards and costly to maintain.

            Even when the issues are starkly clear, national and local governments persist in takin the wrong decisions, so little do they wish to face unplatable truths, and so desperate are they to employ people.

            This is why I just cannot give credence to the idea of a ‘managed decline/transition.’

            Such misguided systems can only lurch into sudden shock and disaster, as far as I can see.

            • I agree with you that people keep making very strange decisions. Adding yet more sports stadiums is one of them. How can we afford to build more of them, and teams and fans travel to games for years ahead to pay for them? What real benefit do these have, except the elusive lure of more spending by fans–spending that might theoretically be somewhere else, if it weren’t in the stadium?

              If it were possible to find a lower level, and everyone aim for it for several years ahead, there theoretically could be at least some sort of managed decline. But people would be shocked at how much lower this would need to be, and current businesses couldn’t make profits at the lower level. Few of us would have the right training for the jobs in the managed decline scenario. So no one would support it. The alternative is to crash to what may be a very low level.

    • ultimately groups of people tend to distrust one another, but put up with minor problems as long as there’s ‘enough to go round’, when there isn’t, annoyance quickly descends into hatred and mob violence and outright revolution against ‘those responsible’
      this is where preachers and politicians find the seedbeds of hate.

    • Dear Gail,
      In figure 6, I don’t get what you count as “oil production” : how come the figure only gets to +/- 75 Mb/d ? Is it only conventionnal oil ? Is so, where does the EIA publishes separated figures for conventionnal only (as far as I know, they publish worldwide figure for “all liquids” only…) ? Thank you by advance !
      Great work.
      Matthieu.

      • Figure 6 is labeled “Crude Oil,” which is what it is. The EIA publishes several types of statistics. The old fashioned, traditional one is “Crude and Condensates,” which is what these numbers are from. US oil production on Figure 5 is also on this basis. For many years, this was the standard way oil production was shown.

        Once it became clear that oil production (as narrowly defined) would be a problem, the EIA and other agencies like the IEA decided to come up with a broader category that encompassed “things that are sort of like oil”. Most of these have less energy per gallon or barrel, so really shouldn’t be added in with oil on a volume basis. It would be better to add them in based on their energy content. In fact, the EIA publishes US amounts also on an energy content basis, and makes its own energy forecasts on an energy-content basis. On this basis, the add-ins are worth much less.

        I should also point out that much of the non-crude oil portion of liquids cannot be used to power vehicles. Instead, it is more like propane and butane, that are used for space heating and other uses. Other liquids also includes ethane, which is something which is now in over-supply. It can be used to make plastics, among other things.

        Biofuels are also in this category, as is “coal to liquid” and “natural gas to liquid”. Another (fairly large) part of the category is “refinery expansion.” It is the additional volume that is added, when a country such as the US refines oil, especially by cracking heavy oils. There is not really an energy addition at all. Much of the US volume expansion has to do with the expansion of oil that was imported. If these imports were to stop, so would the refinery expansion related to them.

        The publication of “total liquids” volume seems to have been put in place to help make oil production figures “look better,” especially for the US.

  2. Maybe this post should have been named ” 12 reasons the United States 5% doesn’t wants to share Our Finite World resources, but we don’t want to give up products make with cheap foreign labor”.

  3. Another consideration is that we are married to an economic philosophy that allows a relatively few to control the means of production and the movement of money. This means that even in the best globalization scenario, enormous quantities of wealth accumulate in the hands of a small number of entities, effectively denuding the vast middle class (and “Main Street” economy) of vital income necessary to fuel the job creation engine of the domestic economy. This, of course, contributes mightily to the situation that we’re dealing with here in the United States (even if the long-lasting effects of the Great Recession were somehow excised from the economy).

    • I think part of what you are talking about is the fact that poorer people are often paying money for loans, and it is a relatively small group of people at the top of the pyramid that get the benefit of the interest payments. In some ways, this situation has always been the case, but the financiers have been more creative in recent years in coming up with new “products.”

  4. Ikonoclast says:

    It seems to me that the super rich (individuals and transnational corporations) are now taking a supranational view of matters. This is what globalisation means. National boundaries matter much less to the super rich than national boundaries matter to the middle class, working class and poor. The international movement of people is still strongly controlled but the international movement of capital is much less controlled. At the same time, nations still matter and the disappearance of nation states does not at all seem to be on the cards.

    So, we have this paradox of the fluidity of capital and the rigidity of security and defence boundaries (for that is what national bondaries are). Thrown into this is the issue of real resources. There is the empirical reality of where the remaining real resources are sited. They are all sited geographically in one nation or another (a truism of course). For all the current importance and fluidity of capital, a profound truth remains. Capital – like money – is not real, it is only notional. What will matter is the time when the chips are down (meaning when various resource reserves run up against real limits) and this begins to choke the real economy. The national (security and defence) possession of real resources will then matter more than the fluidity of capital.

    So, I would expect to see a re-emergence of the importance of the nation state and increasing policies of protection and autarky particularly in the large continental or sub-continental nations with significant remaining resources. These nations include (in land area order) Russia, Canada, China, USA, Brazil, Australia and India. Of course, the real resource richness of these large nations is not necessarily comparable. The USA is a particularly rich nation geographically with enormous (comparatively) remaining reserves of oil, coal, minerals, soils, groundwater, aquifers, lakes etc. Australia on the other hand, though large in area, is mostly desert and poorly endowed in particular with fresh water and arable soils. Despite this, Australia has very significant minerals reserves and its non-arid arable area is still equal to the entire area of France.

    These large countries will soon realise it is in their interests to re-introduce policies of protection and self-sufficiency. It makes no sense to export remaining resources in a severely resource limited world. Small countries with few real resources remaining (like Britain) which run on being financial centres are basically on a hiding to nothing. When world trade and finance collapse (as they inevitably will) then countries like Britain will collapse into severe poverty.

    So, I expect globalism to collapse and the smaller resource-exhausted countries to collapse first. Over-populated countries like China and India will also soon face major problems. The US will literally have to build a wall between itself and Mexico and totally seal the border if it is not to be swamped by collapse refugees from Mexico and Central America. As anti-humanitarian as this appears real-politik will demand it. If you have a lifeboat that will float the current passengers but not the many still drowning and clawing to get in then you push them off with the oars and row away. It’s the survival of the fittest and the best placed.

    Equally, I expect by the time I am 80 or even 75 (now 60) very few if any resources will be devoted to keeping me alive. I expect it and I agree with it. The younger people will be struggling to keep themselves going. Quite correctly, they will see it as absurd and impossible to devote extra resources to keeping old, useless people alive.

    • Bicycle Dave says:

      Hi Ikonoclast

      As I read your comment, I had this vision of some Arizona militia men, armed with their favorite Bushmasters, standing at a border crossing. From the south comes a speeding pickup filled with agricultural workers who are trying to crash through the border to earn money picking grapes. From the north comes a speeding pickup owned by Hewlett Packard (HP) with a bale of US currency worth $100M that is determined to crash through the border to build a PC manufacturing plant south of the border. The militia men will only have time to fire upon one pickup – which one do they perceive to be the greatest national threat?

    • You may very well be right. It hasn’t been as clear to me that the nation-states would stay together. It would seem like the areas with resources would like to keep them for themselves, and not share them too broadly, especially if the resources are limited. Of course, there is considerable interdependence among areas, so individual areas may not be able to “make it” on their own. They need to have the benefit of a larger area, even if transportation is more difficult. It may depend on whether a nation state undergoing financial difficulties can stick together, perhaps under a different form of government, without falling apart.

      There is definitely an issue of how a particular area can keep population down sufficiently so the people living there can survive. If one particular area is good for survival, there is likely to be a great influx of outsiders, endangering survival for all. About all one can do is put up fences or walls, and hope for the best.

      • Ikonoclast says:

        I think the more integral and stable nation states will survive for a while yet, say 50 years anyway. It’s a bit hard to predict anything beyond that. But plenty of states will fail well before then. Somalia and Haiti are two examples of currently failed states. To the extent that they might still appear to be viable states, this is achieved by their being propped up from the outside. Soon, the bigger states will be busy keeping themselves together. There will be no spare resources to prop up failed and failing states.

        The failed states alert index gives a list worth watching. I would expect most of the “top 40” to fail within ten to twenty years.

        • Ikonoclast says:

          Footnote: It’s interesting to note that of the “sustainable nations” only Australia and New Zealand are safely in the southern hemisphere away from collapsing neighbours and surrounded by protective ocean “moats”. In the long term, Australia and New Zealand might be the only viable places to be. The northern hemisphere will be a wasteland.

          • Xabier says:

            I suspect that if the time-frame were long enough, and Australia and New Zealand really did stand out as possible survival locations, they would be invaded and colonised by larger states who would have no scruple in doing so.

            A very sudden collapse which incapacitated foreign militaries would be a different matter.

            So many people who discuss ‘transition’ and ‘survivalism’ seem want to know which corner they and their families can run to, just as my super-rich friends think only of the next great investment or secure asset and blot out the bigger issues. There is a clear biological mandate to think like this.

            I feel it’s perhaps better to let go, and accept. I come from a long line of soldiers, and I think I have a gene somewhere that says ‘face the danger even when you can’t get out of it, some battles you are not going to survive.’ Being half-Spanish, it’s possibly the famous ‘Spanish Fatalism.’

            Not that I’m a pessimist in any sense, just as much of a realist as I can manage! In the same way that Gail presents unpleasing facts in a dispassionate way.

            • A lot of the survivalist line of reasoning seem to be around, “If we just use less oil, it will be OK,” or “If we substitute electricity for oil, we will be OK.” I see the issue as being a breakage of the system that allow our current way of life to go on. Very often, the breaks will occur because of financial problems of either a government or business. Or civil war may break out. Another kind of break may be one where a huge number of people are laid off from work, and cannot afford basic services.

              I expect oil and electricity will encounter problems within a few years of each other, if not at the same time. Relying on electricity to substitute for oil is very risky, IMO.

  5. tag says:

    “I don’t think people who have been pushing globalization ever thought through what it really would do.”

    ??? – Since enslaving humanity always was, is still, and always will be their principle goal, we can surely assume that globalisation is seen as that which best facilitates the principle function of human enslavement … and also that much malicious thought has gone into the planned ‘one world’ tyranny… It’s also no accident that ‘Muftikultur’, is very effectively ethnically cleansing White cultures from their ancestral homelands by population replacement, and that Sharia ‘law’ seems likely to be chosen as the totalitarian social system best suited to administer a global hell on Earth

    CARL JUNG. 1875 – 1961 Carl G. Jung stated: “The larger the organizations, the more inevitable are their immorality and blind stupidity.” “The larger a society or confederacy, the greater the amalgamation of collective factors – which is typical of every large organization – will rest upon conservative prejudices to the detriment of the individual, the more aggravated the moral and spiritual degeneration of the individual.”

    Count Richard N. Coudenhove-Kalergi [Jesuit Black Pope] wrote’ a book in 1923 calling for a United States of Europe. This book contains the following words: “The future man will be a mongrel. As for a Pan-Europe, I wish to see a Eurasian Negroid mixture with great variation in [dysfunctional] personality types… (“Praktischer Idealismus,” 1925, pp. 22, 50):
    The Jews shall take the leading positions, since Providence has given Europe a spiritually superior race of nobility called the Jews.” (The periodical “Pan-Europa” of Count Coudenhove-Kalergi)

    Political Ponerology

    “…the biological, psychological, moral, and economic destruction of this majority of normal people is a “biological” necessity to the pathocrats…”
    “sacrificial tradition represents the domination of the ‘elite’ over the potentials of the ‘common’ people.”
    Andrew M. Lobaczewski’s 1998 book entitled Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes)
    http://www.oldthinkernews.com/2010/12/a-window-into-the-mind-of-a-scientific-dictator/

    • I haven’t been studying this line of thinking. I tend to follow Hanlon’s razor, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Perhaps I am naive, but I just assumed the economists didn’t think things through well enough.

      • Xabier says:

        Gail, I’m with you on the stupidity.

        At one time in my life I studied a great many diplomatic and political documents, written at the highest level, about 100 years ago.

        I was struck by the significant – in fact predominant – role played by misunderstanding and fantasy as opposed to machiavellian scheming and malice, and the power of the great Law of Unintended Consequences. Conspiracy theorists just seem to miss this……

        • Mel Tisdale says:

          Please don’t fall for the ploy of trying to get anyone who believes something to be a conspiracy as automatically not playing with a full deck. The longer we let those primarily responsible for 9/11 get away with it, the bolder they will become, and who knows what that might lead to.

          Just to prove the point, watch the two Youtube videos by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth: WTC 7 Freefall by David Chandler & WTC7 NIST Finally Admits Freefall (Part II) by David Chandler. When you do so, you will see why the official line on the collapse of WTC7 is physically impossible. WTC7 has to have been demolished by the use of explosives, or one of the fundamental laws of physics is wrong. That being the case, and seeing as the placement of that explosive, of which there must have been a considerable quantity, has to have been arranged by someone or some group on the inside and thus 9/11 was an inside job. From that it is clear that we need the whole event to be reinvestigated, properly this time. The freefall of WTC7 is just one of a considerable number of lines of evidence that lead to the same conclusion (Try Pilots for 9/11 truth and note what they say about the issue, including that of pilots with airtime on the actual aircraft involved. Particularly note the analysis of the FDR from American 77).

          Do I like having to conclude that 9/11 was an inside job? Not in the least, but I have to go where the evidence takes me, or betray a principle that stood me well in a long career in automobile engineering where not doing so can result in your being on a manslaughter charge, with all that that could mean.

          • Leo Smith says:

            I have watched it. I am an engineer. The WYC collapse is simple progressive collapse triggered by heat failure of the steel structure. Steel is fireproofed to about 45 minutes. The structures stayed up about 45 minutes. Proggressive collapse has brought down many buildings and is of course a way to demolish them as well, using controlled explosives. But it doesn’t have to be.

            You are right to see the sm8ltaoitroes with controlled demolition – the principles are the same, but heat will take out the structure as sure as explosives will. It just takes that 45 minutes to do it..

            • Mel Tisdale says:

              Yes, you are an engineer, an electrical engineer, so what? We cannot apply Kirchoff”s Laws to steel framed buildings in any meanful way, can we? On the other had, Kevin Ryan was a chemist and laboratory manager for Underwriters Laborotories, the company that certified the steel used to construct the twin towers and WTC7. His opinion conflicts directly with yours. If you don’t mind, I prefer to listen to him and the countless other lines of evidence that support his view rather than listen to someone who is clearly mistaken.

              Perhaps you might like to spend some time visiting the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth website, where you will be able to access the views of experts in the field who clearly believe that there is something very wrong with the official line on 9/11, and despite the general view that all conspiracy theorists are mistaken because they are conspiracy theorists, have come out an stated their views on the matter.

              It is significant that you choose to ignore the fundamental science behind the collapse of WTC7, the subject of the videos that I cited and which show clearly that explosives had to have been used to demolish that building. Perhaps you can explain the freefall collapse for over two and half seconds due simply to fire? Good luck with that. As the videos clearly show, NIST cannot. But of course you are an electrical engineer, so obviously better qualified to do so.

              I suspect that this is yet anotheer case of your taking a ‘Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up!’ stance.’

        • tag says:

          ‘Conspiracy Theorist’s’ – [aka: Millions of Human Beings, all throughout history, that constantly Witness Unscrupulous Psychopaths Undertaking Takeovers by Undermining Realities of Ordered Civilised Freedom] – are simply very much aware that the “One World” genocidal klepto-parasitic, anti-socially-engineering social-disgenic-“scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane” [Tesla] and of course that all that is required for evil to continue to prevail is for good people to continue to do nothing and for the enslaved majority to continue to wilfully remain blind

          PS – an example of an undeniable Conspiracy Fact –

          Adam Weishaupt established a secret society called the Order of the Illuminati in 1776 The purpose of the Illuminati is to divide the goyim (all non-Jews) through political, economic, social, and religious means. The opposing sides were to be armed and incidents were to be provided in order for them to: fight amongst themselves; destroy national governments; destroy religious institutions; and eventually destroy each other. Their objectives are as follows: 1) abolition of all ordered governments 2) Abolition of private property 3) Abolition of inheritance 4) Abolition of patriotism 5) Abolition of the family 6) Abolition of religion 7) Creation of a world government.

          Adam Weishaupt wasn’t just some world hating nut rambling away on a bus, he was one epic world hating nut and very connected and very influential – and we see the plan is now well underway with the balkanisation of the World into combinations of mutually bigoted and hostile victim minorities and ethnic groups; >”muslims””blacks””homosexuals” “narcissist liberals” “non-progressives” etc, in order to facilitate total social destruction from within – It really is no accident that political treachery and manipulation and unacountability along with increasing pathocratic social controls with attendant mass human deaths are becoming the default setting and if we won’t even recognise what the actual problem is and also the extent of our deliberate enslavement we can never be free –

          For example-
          138 Years of Economic History Show that It’s Excessive PRIVATE Debt Which Causes Depressions http://www.oneworldchronicle.com/?p=5484

        • I’m glad someone agrees. Stupidity seems to be rampant, even within academic settings. Everyone takes what someone else has written, and makes slight improvements on it. Peer review makes certain that new journal articles don’t deviate too far from what past journal articles wrote. The need for academics to generate N papers per year means that each paper will be only a slight variation on a previous one–the primary goal is quantity. Innovative is not very high in importance.

          • Mel Tisdale says:

            By way of support for your view about academics copying each other, consider how many linguists accept the dictionary definition of the tense of a verb as being an inflection that defines the time setting of the actions or states it describes. Yet a minute or two’s thought will tell anyone, including linguists, that the tense of a verb has absolutely no meaning whatsoever until its time setting is known, or has been assumed from context or intonation etc.

            Obviously the first lexicographer defined tense wrongly and all the rest have just copied it without a minute’s thought.

      • SlowRider says:

        Stupidity and evil are only two extreme ends on a scale of human behaviour. This happens on all levels – familiy, company, community politics etc. – individuals find out how they can manipulate a situation to their advantage. Doing that, they establish a network of people with complementary interests that even better serves them, and it all grows and develops it’s own dynamic. Now you can call that a conspiracy, but it’s just human behaviour.

  6. Another great post with facts no less. I like this post in particular because many comments are asking the larger question of how the world should be run(or more precisely how it should have been run)? Globalization could never work just because we live in a finite world. If in the fifties we could have truly realized our problem we might have dealt with it. But it wasn’t a problem then and wouldn’t be for a long time. In the fifties we were not truly conscious of sustainability, we were too busy trying to pull ahead personally. Anyway here’s another good quote from Jung:

    The Great events of world history are, at bottom, profoundly unimportant. In the last analysis, the essential thing is the life of the individual.
    This alone makes history, here alone do the great transformations first take place, and the whole future, the whole history of the world, ultimately spring as a gigantic summation from these hidden sources in individuals.
    In our most private and most subjective lives we are not only the passive witnesses of our age, and it’s sufferers, but also its makers. We make our own epoch.

    C. G. Jung 1934
    Collected Works, Civilization in Transition
    CW 10 para.315

    • Xabier says:

      Jung was the man who, when his rich wife died and he became alert to the possibility of dying ‘in poverty’, took lots of Swiss bank notes and buried them in valuable Chinese vases in various locations in his garden.

      The notes rotted and the vases cracked, when he could remember where he put them. ….

      This seems to sum up much about Humanity: mis-allocation of resources, irrational fear and poor strategic, planning all in one! (His books can be entertaining though, I agree.)

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  8. globalisation has been under way since we first wandered out of Africa, only the scale of it is a
    a recent phenomenon
    yet the forces that drove our ancestors are still with us. They moved to exploit opportunities, some successful, some not, taking 50000 years to walk around the world, extracting resources, leaving groups in one area then moving on to new lands and creating new racial groups on the various land masses. It takes perhaps 200 generations, maybe less to create distinct racial strains, and to thus supply the reasons for conflict
    the urge to push on is still driving us, but unfortunately we’ve run out of space just at the point in time where we have the means to take slaughter to a new dimension.
    The world is full, but we want to go on filling it—our genes have not evolved to stop, genes have no concept of finite.
    So we will continue to globalise an already full world. 200 years ago we were filling the empty spaces on land, now we are forced to turn our attention to the cyberspace of finance and profit—we must takeover—colonise—grab more.
    As a specific instance, when we colonised the ’empty spaces’ of Africa we took their energy sources in the form of slaves and muscle energy to work plantations. We can’t do that anymore, so the rich nations of the world are now recolonising Africa to extract the food energy from their land and ship it abroad, leaving the original landholders often destitute. The original slavers used their superior energy sources to drive the slave system, stacking slaves into big ships. We use our superior energy sources to do the same thing, pouring palm oil and wheat into big ships to denude the land they came from. In terms of energy utilisation, there is no difference between the two systems.
    This is why globalisation can only continue so long as there is energy available to drive it.

    • You are right. Every species has an innate instinct to fill all of the spaces available to it, using whatever energy is available. We are simply doing what is instinctual–using resources as fast as possible, and growing our population as fast as possible. Unfortunately, this scenario can’t end well. After overshoot comes collapse.

    • SlowRider says:

      “…only the scale of it is a recent phenomenon”.
      It took me years of self-education on blogs like this to get my mind around the concept of “leverage”. I think few people get it, but it really explains what is so special about our times. I like it better than “scale”, but it’s really nothing different.
      As a child, I was overwhelmed by the power my bicycle gave me over walking. Well, my muscle power was leveraged up many times, and by simple means. But back then, it was just cool! In my opinion, bikes are very elegant machines, because they use so few parts to get such a big advantage. But I also remember what happened when something broke – I had to walk again.

      Most great inventions of humanity can be tied to that concept. The story is always the same: first you have to build something, oftentimes using complex engineering, then learn how to use it, but once in place the system gives superior returns. After some years, people get used to it, and take it for granted (like the PC and the internet).

      Globalization uses whole continents to get leverage. The financial world has its own leverage by using cheap credit. But of course, the larger your leverage is, and the higher it lifts you up, the more vulnerable it becomes, and the more deep you can fall.
      As cheap oil is (or was) one of the most effective leverage instruments, its end could of course threaten the whole system.

  9. Doug W. says:

    The topic of globalization brings me back to the work of Walter Prescott Webb and his book THE GREAT FRONTIER. His thesis was that the Age of Discovery transformed Western Civilization and created the modern world. Europe in 1400 was a static society that had reached subsistence balance between population, resources, and land. The discovery of new lands with all the resources changed that. According to Webb our modern world with democracy, emphasis on the individual, capitalism and the corporation were all outgrowths of news lands and resources. Perhaps the end point of globalization is simply reaching a new subsistence balance globally between population, resources, and land–a great leveling out and greatly reduced material existence for the richer nations.

    • Perhaps, but only if we can gracefully figure out a way of decline to, say, the level that India lives at today. One of out big problems is that as we build upward, we remove the ability to do the approaches that worked in the past. We used to have animal driven carts, but it is not clear that we have the animals, carts, and knowledge of how to do this today. We could no doubt figure it out again, and scale it up again, but it is not immediately available.

      Bigger problems are things that are not so obvious. We have so many people today that getting along without antibiotics would become a problem, especially in big cities. Our food is grown and processed at long distances from our homes. We would have to completely redo the system in a poor world.

      • Mel Tisdale says:

        Horse droppings were a major problem in Victorian London. O.K. if you like roses, I guess.

      • a horse needs 2 acres to obtain its energy input, we just don’t have that much space available. there’s masses of visual record out there about what life was like in cities when horses were the main source of energy

      • Xabier says:

        No, we can’t go back to earlier modes functioning efficiently, only first decline and then collapse.

        For example:

        In England the Dukes of Devonshire bred the most superb shire horses to pull ploughs, etc. When mechanised farming came in at the end of the 2nd World War, they all were taken out and shot in a few days. End of the bloodline, which was the product of about 200 years of breeding in England, and many more centuries elsewhere.

        A great deal of knowledge and capacity to live at a ‘lower’ has been lost and can’t be summoned up again rapidly.

        In contrast, when the Roman cities and towns fell apart, the whole rural structure remained, at so basic a level that no matter who the conquerors or how many massacres took place, farming and hunting just went on: the peasant was a self-replicating source of energy and there were always wild boar and deer in the forests, wildfowl, etc.

        In addition to our complex high technologies which we can’t just step down from, we have so diminished the diversity of the environment that there is almost no natural resource base to fall back on. I look at the fields here and see the blank monotony of modern monoculture and an imported worker driving a tractor in a fields once full of labourers and a landcsape once rich in hares, rabbits, deer and wildfowl…..

        They used to say that the Russian aristocracy never worried about tomorrow, and spent freely, because they just had peasants who bred more peasants who bred more peasants and so on. We live as if we were aristocrats, but our petrol slaves are about to go on strike!

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